Punishment for Rape – An offence under the Indian Penal Code

rape punishment

Definition of Rape

The term “rape” is defined under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code. Under Indian law, only a man can be held liable for the offense of rape. A man is said to commit rape if he has sexual intercourse with a woman under any of the six following conditions –

  • Against the will of the woman;
  • Without the consent of the woman;
  • With her consent, when her consent was obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested by fear or of death or hurt;
  • With her consent, when the man is aware that he is not her husband and that her consent has been given because she believes that he is another man to whom she believes herself to be law­fully married;
  • With her consent, when, at the time of giving such consent, due to unsoundness of mind or intoxication or the administration by him personally or through another of any stupe­fying or unwholesome substance, she is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the consent she gives;
  • With or without her consent, when she is below sixteen years of age.

The explanation to the Section says that penetration is sufficient to constitute the offense of rape.

The exception to the Section says that Sexual intercourse by a man on his own wife, with the wife being not below fifteen years of age is not rape, within the meaning of the Section.

Punishment for Rape –

The minimum punishment for rape shall be imprisonment of either a description for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend for the entire life or for a term which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine, unless the woman raped in question, is the own wife of the man.

In case, the woman is the wife of the perpetrator, and she is under twelve years of age, in that case, he shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which can extend to two years or with fine or both.

Rape of a woman who is under twelve years of age – [Section 376(2)(f)]

The punishment for this includes a term which shall not be less than ten years, which may extend for life, and the perpetrator shall also be liable to pay a fine.

Rape of a woman, knowing that she is pregnant – [Section 376(2)(e)]

The punishment for this includes a term which shall not be less than ten years but which may extend for life and the perpetrator shall also be liable to pay a fine.

Gang rape – [Section 376(2)(g)]

The definition of Gang rape is included in the Explanation under Section 376(2)(g). Gang rape means “Where a woman is raped by one or more in a group of persons acting in furtherance of their common intention, each of the persons shall be deemed to have committed gang rape within the meaning of this subsection.” 

It means that even if six people force a woman into having sexual intercourse with only one of them, yet the remaining five will also be considered to have committed rape under Section 376(2)(g).

Punishment for the rape of this nature includes imprisonment term which shall not be less than ten years but which may be for life and the perpetrator shall also be liable to pay a fine.

Custodial Rape – [Section 376(2)a,b,c and d]

This includes rape on a woman in their or their subordinate’s custody by –

  • A police officer within the limits of the police station to which he is appointed, or in the premises of any station house whether or not situated in the police station to which he is appointed; or on a woman in his custody or in custody of a police officer in a subordinate position to him.
  • A public servant
  • Management or the staff of a jail, remand home, or some other place of custody or a women’s or children’s institution.
  • Management or the staff of a hospital.


Rape is one of the most heinous offenses in India. It is an offense which has brought so much agitation from all corners of India and from almost segments of the society. However, the Indian Penal Code is a colonial law. It was drafted way back in the 1860s, and hence, most of it seems redundant in the world of feminist evolution. The catch about Section 375 is that only a man can commit rape, and only a woman can be the victim under the same. Hence, the offense of rape on a man by a man or a woman does come within the ambit of this section. Rape laws have also been made stringent by the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018, which provides for Death Penalty for the rape of women below twelve years of age. Plus, the minimum punishment for rape was increased from seven years to ten years and rape of girls below sixteen years is now punishable with imprisonment up to twenty years or life imprisonment

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by mayank barman

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